I've written three posts recently relating to
The overnight boat to the Buddhist
Western visitors and Lonely Planet hadn’t yet caught on to this, so I was the only waiguo-ren on board. I booked passage in the cheapest possible cabin, being afraid that by traveling in steearage I might wake up in the morning to find my gear gone, hard for any backpacker to replace while en route in any developing country.
The boat turned out to be not a modern ferry, but rather a pre-WWII south seas freighter converted into a sort-of passenger ship. My cabin on this floating turd-bucket was a small space whose every surface was composed of rusting white-washed cast iron, except for the small cot with a single worn wool blanket. The interior stank of urine, and the latch and hinges of the single, oval-shaped port-hole had rusted shut years before. The smell of urine and the incessant growling of the ship’s engines that vibrated through the walls made any hope of sleep impossible.
But I was transported mentally. Here I was, reenacting the same scene found in numberless
The vessel released its human cargo onto the dock at Putuoshan around , sufficient time to race to the
Chinese ceremonies are huge fun, since if it’s a large temple, the monks march around the Buddha Hall in concentric circles, sort of like a Buddhist conga line, and there are wonderful Chinese percussion instruments that punctuate the chanting, sounding occasionally like Beijing Opera. (So much more congenial than the formality of morning services I attended at Ehei-ji in
I poked around the sacred island, dedicated to Guan-Yin (aka: Avalokiteshvara), for a few hours, but found it the least interesting of the four holy mountains in China, due in part no doubt to my profound lack of sleep. Consequently I took the afternoon ferry to
[Picture of Puji Temple by James Johnson. More pictures of Putuoshan by James Johnson are posted here.]